Is It Better to Fuel Yourself Up Before Morning Run?

That’s your alarm ringing. Time to leave your warm bed. You have limited time for a morning run and shower before work. Is it really necessary to eat breakfast before you hit the trail? And what about eating post-run?

What is today’s workout?

The type of workout is the main factor in deciding if you need something to eat before you start. When you wake up in the morning, your blood sugar is at its lowest due to overnight fasting. You may not have enough glycogen stored away to keep you fueled for the run. Therefore the size of your breakfast must vary depending on the length and intensity of the run.

Ideally, you should fuel your body about 1 to 3 hours pre-workout, depending on how your body tolerates food. However, runners know that eating anything too close to a run may impair performance and lead to GI discomfort. Besides, getting up an hour before a 6:45 a.m. run to give your body enough time to digest breakfast properly is not exactly practical!

If you are looking to burn fat or just going for an early morning shakeout or recovery run of 30-60 minutes, you may not require any pre-workout fuel. Research suggests that, for the average person, a relaxed-pace morning run without carbohydrates in the stomach will not limit performance. Additionally, eating carbohydrates will not enhance performance in this scenario. So, just enjoy your pre-workout coffee/caffeine!

For a run longer than an hour but at a relaxed pace, a small breakfast bar, a couple slices of toast, or a large banana may be enough to fuel you up. It’s best to get something small down as soon as you wake up, even before getting your workout clothes on, to give yourself maximum digestion time. However, if you’re planning a speed workout or a long run, wake up an hour early and have a small meal.

Try these options before a long run:

  • Porridge topped with walnuts and blueberries
  • Energy bar made with medjouls and nuts
  • Banana and peanut butter
  • Smoothie (fat-free Greek yogurt, fresh berries, almonds)

Post-Run Meal Tips

Your body uses stored glycogen in your muscles to power through your workout, but after that workout you need to replenish the nutrients lost. What to do? No matter the intensity or duration, your body will be screaming for replenishment post-run. As soon as possible post-workout, eat some carbs and protein for a better recovery.

Post-workout meal options include:

  • Recovery smoothie (low-fat yogurt, watermelon/mango, ice)
  • Low-fat chocolate milk
  • Turkey with veggies in a whole-grain wrap
  • Yogurt with berries

The above options offer mainly carbs with some protein and are convenient with the first two liquid options also helping to rehydrate the body.

Now put on your favorite playlist and enjoy your morning cardio!

5 Healthy Reasons to Eat Pumpkin at Halloween

Oh, Halloween! Watching horror films, holding costume parties, children dressing up in costumes, going trick-or-treating, Halloween sweets, snacks, carving lanterns with scary faces out of pumpkins to decorate homes and gardens, creating ghoulish scenes in the yard, and so much more that I forgot to add, are all of the fun Halloween things that make the holiday look both horrible and magical. Magical and scary symbols of Halloween -ghosts, skeletons, witches, wizards, blood, bats, black cats, spiders- invite us into a spiritual world. The spooks, ghosts and walking skeletons symbolize the spirituality between the living and the dead. We turn into magical figures with costumes to have the power to contact the spirit world, like witches and wizards do. Lanterns with scary faces carved out of pumpkins become a part of this spiritual world by symbolizing light and darkness. Maybe that’s why one of the most popular symbols of Halloween is the Jack-o’-lantern. And maybe that’s why most cafés and restaurants come out with pumpkin specialties on the menu. Everyone loves eating pumpkin recipes at Halloween, don’t they? Here are 5 healthy reasons to choose pumpkin recipes in this season.

1. Vitamins

Fall is the season of the cold, flu and allergies. Food that is high in vitamins, such as pumpkin, can help you to not “fall” ill in the fall. In this season, we can boost our immunity to defeat infections through pumpkin’s highly dense nutritional content. A cup of pumpkin provides 245% of vitamin A,  19% of vitamin C, 10% of vitamin E, and 2% of vitamin K according to FDA recommended daily values (RDV). These vitamins protect us against infections and help to treat the cold and flu. That’s why fall is the season of pumpkin, too.

2. Minerals

Minerals are responsible for maintaining fluid balance in the body. Adequate mineral intake balances the amount of water in your body and reduces water retention. Also, the pH balance of body is related to minerals. Mineral balance helps your nerves, muscles, heart, and brain to work the way they should. You can protect yourself against high blood pressure, stroke, water retention, osteoporosis, bone fractures, and muscle injuries by keeping up on your mineral balance. When it comes to RDV, a cup of pumpkin provides 16% of potassium, 11% of manganese, 11% of copper, 8% of iron, 7% of phosphorus, 6% of magnesium, 4% calcium and 4% of zinc.

3. Antioxidants 

The color of pumpkin comes from beta carotene, a kind of carotenoids. Besides giving its vibrant color, carotenoids are antioxidants and a precursor of vitamin A. Imbalances between free radicals and antioxidants causes oxidative stress, which is a trigger for different types of diseases. The antioxidant effects of pumpkin inhibit damage caused by free radicals in the body, protects against inflammatory conditions and diseases -such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and cancer-, and has lots of benefits for overall health.

4. Fibers

A cup of pumpkin (245 g) includes 2.7 g of dietary fiber and it meets 11% of your daily fiber needs. Foods that are high in fiber help to regulate the digestive system. There is increased curiosity (and research) into the theory that all diseases are connected to the digestive system. Scientists are even researching connections between the digestive system and psychology. According to studies, fiber intake provides protection against inflammation, cardiovascular risks, allergies, diabetic complications, metabolic syndrome, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and kidney health. Pay attention to protecting your digestive system, and support it by eating foods high in fiber, such as pumpkin.

5. Low Calorie

Pumpkin is classified as a low-calorie food because it is 90% water. A cup of mashed pumpkin has 50 calories (44 cal comes from carbohydrates, 1.5 cal from fat and 4.5 from proteins). It may also be helpful in weight control. High volumes of pumpkin makes you feel full easily.

Let’s enjoy more healthy pumpkin recipes for the benefits that come from the nutritional value. Pumpkin kisses and harvest wishes. Happy Halloween! 🙂



5 Healthy Snacks to Beat Afternoon Cravings at Work

In recent years, everyone has become aware of the benefits of snack meals. They are not only necessary for losing weight, but also essential for feeling good and dealing with long work hours. Most of us feel our energy waning around 3 p.m. or 4 p.m on workdays. But it can be hard to come up with healthy and creative options for snack meals to replenish energy. So if you’re tired of constantly eating walnuts and hazelnuts, check out these 5 healthy snack alternatives which are easy to find and prepare.

1. I don’t have time to prepare anything.

Convenient, pre-packaged foods can be your savior for snack meals, but you should read the labels very carefully because today’s supermarkets are full of unhealthy industrial foods. You should choose snacks without sugar or food preservatives and with at least 3 grams of protein. An energy bar with about 100-400 kcalories (you can choose your snacks’ calory count based on your current weight and your target weight) is generally the best choice. When you are bored at the office during the afternoon, stay away from the nearest chocolate wafers. Instead give the coffee and energy bar duo a try. You will observe your work performance getting better.

2. It’s really hot out there! Give me some refreshing desserts!

If you have never tried making ice cream at home you may think that it is tasteless and hard to prepare. Give it a chance; you will see how delicious it is even without sugar! Slice 1 medium sized banana, put it in a plastic bag, and let it rest in the freezer for a couple of hours. Once the banana slices are frozen, toss them in the blender and add 1 teaspoon of peanut butter, 1 teaspoon of cocoa, and a few hazelnuts.

3. I’ve been feeling very hungry lately, and the usual snacks just don’t fill me up.

When the usual snacks just don’t cut it, it’s time to seek out an option with more protein, such as a sandwich with spreadable curd cheese and smoked turkey slices on rye or whole grain bread. You can add some avocado too if you are very hungry. This sandwich contains about 8-10 grams of protein and is a great snack to carry to work in your bag. Have a sparkling mineral soda with it for a refreshing twist; you will not feel hungry until dinner time!

4. Yogurt + Granola Mix

Here is another easy option that you can prepare at home or at the office. Mix together a small portion of yogurt (you can have probiotics if you choose) and sugar-free granola. If you prefer, instead of granola you can prepare yourself a portion of muesli mix: 2 tablespoons of oatmeal, 1 tablespoon of raisins, 5-6 raw almonds, and half a teaspoon of cinnamon.

5. Fave Couple: Milk Coffee and Dark Chocolate

Sometimes you may not feel very hungry during snack time and think that just drinking some coffee is enough. But it’s easy to be tempted by the little treats that we often eat alongside coffee, such as donuts, pastries, or chocolates. Every now and then we all make excuses such as, “It’s just a small piece, so it’s okay.”Here’s a healthy suggestion: You can have 1-2 small pieces of dark chocolate alongside a cup of coffee with plain, soy, or almond milk. This combination will trigger the happiness hormone (serotonin) thanks to the magnesium in the dark chocolate, but you won’t be consuming the extra fat of other kinds of chocolates or sweets.